Teaching SafarI


The Teaching Safari is a free professional learning for teachers that consists of four full-day, onsite sessions at Brookfield Zoo Chicago (BZC) and two 60-minute virtual sessions. In addition to attending and participating in these classes, participants will engage in ongoing reflection on professional growth, and create and revise a lesson plan applying program content to practice. Content and strategies explored on the Teaching Safari are informed by Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and the Danielson Framework. Seats are limited; the application window for the Fall 2024 Teaching Safari is open from May 20, 2024 through August 22, 2024 or until spaces are filled. Because spaces are limited, we encourage you to apply early. Special consideration is given to teachers from CPS and Title I Schools. Also, we encourage applicants to register with 1 or 2 other teachers from their school to encourage discussion and sharing of this experience!



✔ Enhance your content knowledge of conservation, animals, and ecosystems.
✔ Explore effective, equity-minded classroom strategies to support student inquiry, critical thinking, conceptual understanding, argumentation based on evidence, student ownership, and engagement in all subject areas.
✔ Discover new ways to develop conservation awareness in your students and to enrich learning through zoo resources and exhibits.
✔ Reflect on your classroom practice, engage in discussion with other educators, and receive individualized, written feedback from experienced zoo educator program facilitator on a lesson plan that you create and revise during this program.
✔ Connect and expand your professional learning community by becoming a part of our Brookfield Zoo Chicago Teaching Safari Network and enjoy free registrations for designated online and in-person professional development events.
✔ Teaching Safari participants who complete all course requirements may elect to receive 35 free professional development hours or two (2) free graduate semester hours from Dominican University.* Participants who complete the Safari will also receive a Certificate of Completion from Brookfield Zoo Chicago and four (4) complimentary zoo passes.


Our safari begins with a two-day expedition focused on Brookfield Zoo Chicago’s Great Bear Wilderness, inhabited by brown bears, polar bears, bison, and the bald eagle! As you learn about these amazing animals, you will explore a variety of inquiry-based, student-centered teaching strategies that you can apply in your classroom across subject areas.

Teachers will also participate in an onsite, two-day "variety expedition" adventure combining educator professional development to support student learning as we explore The Swamp, The Living Coast, Hamill Family Wild Encounters, Hamill Family Play Zoo, and other animal habitats throughout the zoo.
Fall 2024 Schedule

Fall 2024 Flyer


Day 1: Great Bear Wilderness

Introduction: What is Conservation Leadership? Developing Conceptual Understanding Through Equity-Based, Student-Centered Teaching.

Observing Bears as Phenomena: A Gateway to Inquiry and Problem-Based Learning



Day 2: Great Bear Wilderness 

Brown Bear "Food for Thought": Sensemaking with Mathematical Data and Scientific Models 

A Habitat for Bears in the Human Heart:
Exploring Diverse Perspectives Through Art and Empathy


Day 3: Zoo Variety 

The Swamp: Swamp Music: Keeping Learning "In Tune" with Student Schema, Language, and Experience.

The Living Coast: Transform "Ho-Hum" Science Activities with Humboldt Penguins: Planning and Carrying Out Student-Centered Investigations through Inquiry. 


Day 4: Zoo Variety 

Hamill Family Play Zoo & Wild Encounters: Strategies for Empowering Students to Access and Take Ownership of Learning in School and Beyond.

Empowering Student-centered Learning through Animal Behavior Studies: Building Collaboration and Understanding through Student-Centered Assessment and Goal-Setting.  



Choose your Adventure!
We encourage two or more educators to register from the same school to help support your professional learning community. 

The application window for our Fall 2024 safari opens May 20, 2024.

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The Teaching Safari program is presented by Brookfield Zoo Chicago to support educators in teaching Science and Conservation Leadership. Conservation Leadership encompasses not only an understanding of animals and ecosystems, but empathy, joy, and appreciation for the natural world shared in a spirit of equity and stewardship. We look forward to taking this safari with you!

Brookfield Zoo Chicago Teacher Network members will receive a 20% discount on Web+ Classes in the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) Master's Program. AIP is a master's degree program offered by Brookfield Zoo Chicago in partnership with Miami University, Ohio. The AIP Master's degree program focuses on education, sustainability, and local conservation actions. For more information, contact Agnes.Kovacs@brookfieldzoo.org.

*IEIN number, documentation of attendance at all sessions per Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) guidelines, and completion of reflections/lesson plans per rubric are required for professional development hours or semester hour credit. Certificate, zoo passes, and network benefits will be awarded upon completion of all program requirements. 


Graduate credit provided by: 

Have questions?
Please contact Patsy Steinmeyer at EdK12@brookfieldzoo.org


SUmmer 2024 Flyer - With Summer Schedule